Skip to main content

Reply to this post | See parent post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: Reade Date: Sep 18, 2012 9:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

Any full-throated rejection of the status quo (that's going to succeed to any extent) is done more or less a step at time and I like how she pointed that out with that example.
Books recounting counter-culture adventures from previous eras can tend to emphasize all that was different or radical, possibly in an attempt to sell the thing, a this-is-what-the-people-buying-this-book-want-to-hear-about approach to recounting the past.
When in fact I would contend those scenes were probably alot more conventional than we might imagine now.
A generation cannot snap their fingers and create new social, economic, musical, political, and sexual realities on the spot. I think that's the perception or stereotype, but not what happened. Accounts from those that tried (Peter Coyote and others have written about attempts at communal living back then in New Mexico for example) detail how the immense scale of change being attempted all at once just bogged everything down. Whole communes would split over whether or not the doors to the bathrooms should be taken off their hinges for example. (Faction A: "I'd like a little privacy." Faction B: "Privacy? Privacy for what? We have no secrets here." You get the picture.)

I bet her book is a great read: a female insider view of a predominately male space in that era in particular! Makes me wonder about the other women in the scene- have they written memoirs? Mountain Girl, Betty Cantor-Jackson, Eileen Law? If Steve Parrish and Rock Scully and Sam Cutler can get in on the action, what the hey.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 18, 2012 6:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

I think Rosie's is the first female memoir of the Dead scene, as Blair mentioned... Though the others have certainly been interviewed here & there.
We might get a memoir out of Mountain Girl sometime. It depends on whether these folks want to take the time to's not like a project you can casually toss off!
A while back, someone posted a youtube video of an hour-long speech Mountain Girl gave recently ("Mountain Grandmother" would perhaps be more appropriate by now), telling her history of those times:

'Feminism' was something more of a '70s phenomenon, the '60s is a little early to expect it. The ladies at 710 Ashbury might even have been surprised if someone had pointed out to them they were doing all the cooking & cleaning.
And, yes, a rock band is the last place you'd expect principles of gender equality to appear. Though perhaps unspoken, there is the issue of status - that the men are the Musicians, around which all else revolves; so the women around them tended to fall into the 'supportive & nurturing' camp. Not to mention the men are out on the road half the year...
I don't know about the other guys, but Garcia in particular would attract women who'd put up with anything just to care for him. "I'll make a home for him so he can devote himself to his art!"

I'd add to AltheaRose's comment that the Dead had mostly formed their ideals of the world before the 'hippies' came along. They were a bit too young to be original beatniks, so they fell in between the beatniks & the later '60s scene - Garcia, Lesh, Hunter & co. were creatures of the early '60s.
Hunter made a comment about that in his 1996 letter to Garcia:
"Faith in the underlying vision which spawned the Grateful Dead might be hard to muster for those who weren't part of the all night rap sessions circa 1960-61 ... sessions that picked up the next morning at Kepler's bookstore then headed over to the Stanford cellar or St. Mike's to continue over coffee and guitars. There were no hippies in those days and the beats had bellied up. There was only us vs. 50's consciousness. There no jobs to be had if we wanted them. Just folk music and tremendous dreams."
The world had to change considerably for something like the Grateful Dead to be possible, and they were perhaps as surprised as anyone. Changing gender roles, though, were not in their sights!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Sep 18, 2012 7:51pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

Yes, exactly. We're all impacted by the generations just before us and the times we grew up in; most of the true "pioneers of the 60s spirit," like the band members, weren't even baby boomers, actually, but were impacted themselves by growing up in the 40s and 50s.

Fantastic example about the bathrooms! What we gain today in "been there, done that" we lose in that true belief in wide-open possibility ... it seems so "naive" now, but our attitude now is arguably cynical or jaded ...

Somehow I managed to DL the book, which I thought wasn't possible here (apparently something has changed. Yay!) It's a really interesting contribution to the picture. My only critique is that, ideally, I would have liked more nuanced description of the personalities and a more reflective and complex evocation of the general atmosphere, but that's a Catch 22: unless someone is a practiced or inate writer, it's a hard or even impossible thing to do, and if they're not a Real Writer (or not so inclined) they arguably might need a ghost writer to help them out in capturing that, which then undercuts the genuineness in a very big way. (I'm glad she didn't use a ghost writer, even if it might have read more "sophisticated.")

That said, it's a good read, and a bunch of things really struck me. One was her honesty about being rather frightened by the Pranksters. I'd have liked her to go into that more, and to have found out if she ever really changed her views or processed them differently, but it was refreshing to finally hear that, and to hear various admissions about people like MG being "intimidating," which I'm sure was very much the case.

Another thing was the impression I had of how absolutely crowded and people-filled their daily lives were ... she kept saying she was still "getting to know" Phil after they'd been together a year or two or even three, and it left me thinking, "wow, was there so little private space?!?" Which actually does seem to have been the case. These are people who truly lived in the middle of a party, or a maelstrom, or surrounded by others, for years on end. What does that do to you? I'd go nuts.

And she gives a pretty strong picture of how Jerry was always, right from the beginning, the center of any room he was in. Well before he was famous. I'd heard that before in various forms ...

Anyway, it's well worth reading, and I agree that I'd like to see a lot more from the women.

But I'm still waiting for a book by a writer with both the chops and the inclination for nuanced insight that goes beyond straight story-telling. Hunter? Barlow? They may always let their songs speak for themselves, and maybe they don't want to touch it any other way, but I wish they would.

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2012-09-19 02:51:11

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 18, 2012 9:50pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

I wouldn't expect a memoir from Hunter, he seems resistant - but he could do a good job, if he ever cared to.

A quote from Rosie McGee in Jackson's Garcia bio:
"The men were doing the things that brought in the money. They were the creative ones and the breadwinners, although some of the women also earned money. But the gist of it was the women provided the comfort, which included keeping the home together, doing the laundry, getting the food together, cleaning. It was very male-dominated. Over time, if individual women had their shit together and manifested something, they definitely were respected. But as a group, the rest of the women were regarded as 'the chicks.' Later on it became 'the old ladies.' That was like the worst thing you could say: 'Well, the old ladies are here today.'"

Some women fled. Rock Scully said, "My girlfriend Tangerine did this deal on me. 'It's me or them, Rock. I can't handle this.' She was the only girl in the house and we wouldn't do the dishes, so she had to clean up after us and there were beer cans and dirty towels."
Brenda Kreutzmann also left Bill: "The band always came first, and I was always in competition with it."

Mountain Girl moved in during fall '66 and was happy to take charge in the feminine vacancy. As she said in Greenfield's Garcia bio:
"Tangerine was there for a while but she quickly split because she was tired of cooking and cleaning for those guys. But she had them whipped into shape. When I stepped in, they were already pretty domesticated. [Her idea of "domesticated" is pretty strange, though...] The house was full of wild crazy people living in chairs and basements and closets... None of them cooked or cleaned. They didn't know where the grocery store was. I had already lived through the Pranksters, and I loved these guys; they were so sweet... They weren't nearly as cranky as those old Pranksters... I felt that I was needed; I felt that I was called to do this. I also felt they would let me get away with shit there... I knew I could rule... I felt my role there was to keep it together... I did a lot of laundry and I did an awful lot of cooking." [And she also made Garcia some new clothes!]
Apparently a lot of people did find her take-charge attitude intimidating. Weir said, "She wasn't about to be denied... Not everybody knew what to do about her."

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Sep 18, 2012 10:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

> Later it became 'the old ladies.' That was like the worst thing you could say: 'Well, the old ladies are here today.'"

Can I hit them over the head with a frying pan, please?

Smile smile smile :-)

This may not be up anymore, but for a while, excerpts from the testimony in the Koons vs MG Case were up on YouTube. At one point Phil is asked about MG being pushy, or something to that effect, and he says something like, "I'm familiar with that side of her personality. But none of Jerry's women were exactly shrinking violets."

They clearly took on the "nurturing" role (or you could also say traditional, or subservient, or second fiddle, or all of the above), but I'm sure to do that they had to be pretty tough cookies. Somehow I'm guessing that "uh oh the old ladies are here" sparked a few choice replies from the "old ladies," even if it didn't go in the direction of "that's Womyn, with a 'y,' you sexist twerps. Now clean up your own dishes!"

Yeah, I get the sense that Hunter has no intention of doing a memoir .... that if it's honest, it'll be hurtful, and if it's not honest, it won't be worth doing ... I would love to see at least periodic essays on different aspects, though. Maybe he's done some of that already?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Reade Date: Sep 19, 2012 10:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

To some extent he has done it a little bit already. There was his poem, 'An American Adventure:'

To hear it read (to allow for multi-tasking; I've listened to it while doing the dishes!):

Very wonderful, very moving imo. Filled with an objectivity of sorts
but minus the 'naming of names.' And he even playfully levels the playing field by taking a shot at all who attempt to recall, including himself, when he mentions the sidewalks of the Haight being made of "inch-thick shamrock glass."
I'll use it in support of my seconding your motion that he's The Guy to satisfy the 'still waiting for a book by a writer with both the chops and the inclination for nuanced insight that goes beyond straight story-telling' criteria.
What a freakin' read that would be. Talk about a unique perspective. As LIA points out this guy goes back to the '60-'61 coffee house circuit w/ Jerry, farther back than any who may lay claim to insider status, and was a member of the band for all intents and purposes given the years '65 and beyond, which eliminates alot of other coffee house era friends....
That perch teamed with a writer's sensibility (to say the least) and, for my money, a bullshit detector second to none would make any other nominee more of a pretender than contender it would seem.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 19, 2012 12:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

Of course, Lesh fit the bill as well...

Word is that Bill Kreutzmann is supposed to write a memoir to be published in 2015.
I think Weir's also said he might write one, though I have my doubts about him...

Hunter, alas, prefers the short form - the poem, the journal jottings, memories thrown off incidentally...

Ironically, Hunter wrote to Garcia back in '96, "Could I write a book about you? No. Didn't know you well enough. Let those who knew you even less write them."

But then, that was a statement 'for show.' Here's one 1995 interview about his poetry - -
"Jerry and I have been hanging out since we were 18 and 19 respectively, and I know him as well as I know any other human being. We were folk singers together, and I know what kind of song he loves. So when I give him something I'll give him something that I have a high degree of suspicion that he will love--and sometimes I'm right."

"I would say I was real good friends with Neal Cassady... But I was too young for that scene, and although Jerry and I and the guys all considered ourselves Beatniks back in the old days, I mean, Christ, we were eighteen or nineteen--we couldn't have been real Beatniks. There weren't any hippies yet. We were in that in-between state. We had little beards. We were doing what we could."

And on 'American Adventure':
"That poem began as the Grateful Dead was going to release a set of CDs of everything that they'd done. Some new stuff, and vault tapes, plus all the old records, in a 3 CD set, which is something that didn't happen in the end. I was asked if I would write liner notes for each of the three sections. I just hit the page, and wrote in a really free manner, and I liked very much what I had come up with. Then when the CD set didn't go, a year or two later I took out the things that were album-specific and kept the sociological stuff--the adventure. It's recognizably the band I'm talking about, being interchangeable for our generation...
It's time to...get that down in a way that is not going to require a lot of rewriting. For the time being, I'm intending to fly with the speed of light through stuff."

In his journals there are occasional dips into the past - for instance here's one year, 2006, when he was writing a novel:

2/23/06 - how Friend of the Devil was written. "The NRPS had asked me if I wanted to play bass with them and it seemed like a good idea at the time... Although I learned all the tunes, I never did play a gig with the NRPS, who were doing strictly club dates at the time. For one reason or another I never quite fathomed, though I have my suspicions, I got shut out. Either that or I misread the signs and wasn't inclined to push. Nothing was ever said."

6/7/06 - "A shelf of books could be written and still only lightly perturb the surface of who the Grateful Dead were, are, and why. A book must have a point of view and I submit there is none extant sufficiently wide and informed to do more than tease curiosity. That possibility probably passed with Ramrod. Think of something approaching your own life's complexity of nuance and multiply it by the number of characters in our scene, past and present, and put the spotlight of the world on it - see what I mean? There is an official Grateful Dead story, chronological highlights which are largely, and rightly, Garcia oriented, but no possibility of a comprehensive estimation...
But there are names involved and when those names are sullied, the people bearing them feel distress... In a lose/lose situation wisdom dictates keeping one's own council. Hence the relative silence regarding most internal matters."
[This reminds me how in Phil's book, he hardly ever says a bad word about anyone, but is always kind & diplomatic.]

6/29/06 - "Did I ever tell you the story of how there almost was no Jerry Garcia? We were in our late teens and Jerry had definitely decided to go pro but he was worried about his name... Contemplating a career in folk and old timey music, he felt that the name Garcia might be a hindrance to his acceptance in the form. He was seriously wondering if it might be a good idea to use his mother's maiden name, Clifford..."

3/17/07 - "The most I ever enjoyed money came when, after working for the GD as a songwriter at fifty dollars a week, I got a seventy-five grand advance after Workingman's Dead was released. I thought I was set for life. Bought a new Saab for twenty-five hundred, cash. The next day somebody put an egg in the gas tank at a huge party up at Mickey's ranch."

There you go, Hunter's mini-memoirs!

And, lastly, this is a hilarious parody of the Dead's early history, written as screenplay fragments:

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Reade Date: Sep 19, 2012 2:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

After reading your first line I started digging in to, in the most respectful manner possible, disagree completely. Then you got around to stating my case before I could get to it: "[This reminds me how in Phil's book, he hardly ever says a bad word about anyone, but is always kind & diplomatic.]" As Althea stated earlier in the thread "if it's honest, it'll be hurtful, and if it's not honest, it won't be worth doing ..."
If that doesn't sum up Phil's book I don't know what does.

This was powerful as far as Hunter's direct opinion on the matter is concerned: "But there are names involved and when those names are sullied, the people bearing them feel distress... In a lose/lose situation wisdom dictates keeping one's own council. Hence the relative silence regarding most internal matters." Hadn't seen that before.

Rereading 'American Adventure' the thought I had was I'd love to read something similar- short form memoir if you will- but of a more recent vintage. Would love his take on all-things-17-years-down-the-road from ground zero. He showed in AA how you can at least brush up to "internal matters" without dropping names: $!000.00 for band member Meet-and-Greets? And calling it 'Total Immersion?' Good heavens. Is the money going to save the rainforests or the whales? Would some of these good folks be riding so high in the saddle if Jerry were still around? It's Hunter's gig for sure- he is clearly what's left of the scenes conscience.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: micah6vs8 Date: Sep 19, 2012 3:17pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Worth a read (and look)

Why should Hunter write a memoir? It would only compete with what I assume he holds dear, the lyrics he wrote for Garcia et al. His masterpiece or create antagonistic energy that could never be healed and would never leave for a little money?

I understand that Garcia's motive for being as member of the GD by the '90's was money.